Mountain Road Trips: Drivable Summits
Some people respond to the call of the wild with nothing but a sharpened stick and a bag of granola.
By Cayla Lambier April 19, 2011
Besides the oft-traveled road to Hurricane Ridge outside Port Angeles (see page 107), here are five more Washington mountains you can summit in the relative comfort of your automobile.
Mount Spokane: Twenty-five miles north of Spokane in the Selkirk Range is Mount Spokane State Park, a 13,919-acre forested camping park rich with wildlife and hiking trails. You can drive to the top of Mount Spokane (elevation: 5,883 feet), where you’ll take in views of Idaho, Montana and Canada. N 26107 Mt. Spokane Park Dr., Mead; parks.wa.gov
Steptoe Butte: While Steptoe Butte might not be a mountain per se, it does provide a magnificent view of eastern Washington from 3,612 feet up. Just 12 miles north of Colfax, this natural monument is a beautiful spot for ogling the sunrise, appreciating the sunset, spreading out an afternoon picnic or indulging in a heavy dose of stargazing. Scholz Road east off U.S. Route 195; parks.wa.gov
Mount Constitution: Arguably the best vantage point in Puget Sound—and one of the easiest to access—Mount Constitution is the highest point in the San Juan Islands, at 2,409 feet. Rising at the north end of Moran State Park on Orcas Island, Mount Constitution’s lookout tower offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding islands and is just a short drive away from the cozy village of Eastsound. Off Olga Road, 14 miles from Orcas Island ferry landing; parks.wa.gov
Slate Peak: At 7,400 feet, Slate Peak, in the Pasayten Wilderness of the Okanogan National Forest, is the highest point in Washington reachable by automobile. Once intended as an Air Force radar station site, the leveled summit now hosts a fire lookout tower. The road to the top—a white-knuckle driving experience open from about early July to early October—stops about a quarter-mile shy of the peak. Off Lost River Road, 21 miles north of Mazama; waymarking.com/waymarks/WM48ZW_Slate_Peak_Lookout
Mount Walker: The only mainland peak facing Puget Sound with road access to its summit, Mount Walker in the Olympic Range features magnificent views at a mere 2,804 feet above sea level. Travelers be warned: The route is a narrow, steep, gravel road with few turnouts, so leave the RVs at home. Forest Service Road 2730 off U.S. Route 101; www.fs.fed.us/r6/olympic